- 240 credits
- 15 month programme
- Full-time study
- Environmental Architecture graduates are expected to go on to work in a range of fields, from further academic study to roles in environmentalist NGOs, urban planning agencies and design agencies including architecture, landscape architecture and environmental design.
Explore the future of landscapes, environments and ecosystems.
Environmental Architecture focuses on the co-dependence of life forms and earth systems as well as the co-existence of alternative concepts of landscapes, environments and territories as they are expressed by different societies.
If the planet has a design problem, what do the terms ‘design’ or ‘architecture’ mean when they are applied to phenomena as varied as oceans and atmospheres, or to farmlands and deserts? The intensity of environmental change calls for new forms of knowledge production based in propositional thinking, especially design-based methods.
We offer an intensive series of seminars, lectures, workshops and symposia that cultivate new and experimental approaches to the discipline. You’ll have access to a rich culture of radical and experimental interdisciplinary work at the RCA, and the chance to establish a network of colleagues and mentors in London.
Our studios are the heart of day-to-day activity for the School. Studios are purpose-designed for inspiration and interaction between students of different design disciplines. Studio workspace is provided for each student. In addition, you have access to wood, metal, plastic and resin workshop facilities, as well as contemporary digital fabrication equipment and a suite of bookable project and making spaces.
More details on what you'll study.
Find out what you'll cover in this programme.
What you'll cover
What will I learn?
Live Project-based studio work forms the core of activity for the first three terms of the MA Environmental Architecture programme, with complementary technical, historical, theoretical and case study seminars occurring in parallel. Group work is encouraged and considered an important introduction to the inherently collaborative process of architecture and environmental design. These may take place online or as part of a blended mode of delivery, according to government guideline and College policy.
In the fourth and final term, you will complete an Independent Research Project as an individual submission, which will offer the opportunity to work on a detailed design proposal or thesis with support and feedback from urban and environmental architecture practitioners.
Workshops focus on new spatial epistemologies, especially systems of representation, visualisation and calculation. History theory subjects examine alternative environmental models throughout history, focusing on the way social and political ambitions have become spatialised. Shared modules at programme, School and College level encourage different scales of collaboration with related disciplines and across the College.
The weekly design studio is the core of the MA programme. Work in the studio is organised in small student groups (2–4 students), and teaching is conducted during weekly group tutorials and pin-up presentations. Work produced in the studio is assessed in mid-term, end-of-term presentations and end-of-term submissions. The submissions follow distinct stages of environmental architecture defined in practice: ‘Brief’ (T1), ‘Strategy’ (T2), ‘Concept Design’ (T3).
The three design studios introduce the pedagogy of the programme, provide you with design skills and research methodologies to analyse case studies, while assisting you with the formulation of research and design proposals. The teaching model combines written and design components since both are considered essential practices in the generation of disciplinary
For 2019/20, the Lithium Triangle Research Studio explored architecture’s contribution to communities and popular organisations engaged in environmental disputes over resource extraction in the context of the 'global energy transition'.
Meanwhile, The Orang-orang and the Hutan Studio interrogated bio-resources – both extracted and extracted from – through the specific, elemental materials and processes that comprise the inhabited forest, and in doing so addresses intersectional knowledge and spatial structures entangled within the social and ecological tensions of a forest under fire.
Environmental questions are rarely far from contemporary public debate.
Climate change, global warming, global forest fires, and extreme weather events, mass species extinction, the pollution of our air, seas, land and rivers, not to forget the pollution of our own bodies and food supplies are all daily headline news in print and televisual media.
How should we think about these questions within a school of architecture?
There are three seminars organised across the first three terms of the programme. The seminars require constant engagement and involvement by students in course material selection and preparation, collective discussions and oral presentations.
This unit enables students to explore how architects communicate ideas from both a contemporary and historical perspective. This encompasses a range of media that spans disciplines, ideologies and methods.
Students will use both analogue and digital technologies to understand better how a designer creates, interrogates and manipulates spatial environments.
This investigation will take place in a critical context, which explores how images are used to manufacture socio-political ideologies and negotiate public identities.
We have an innovative format of partnership with a selected group of professional practices and organisations. In the beginning of your Independent Research Project (IRP), you’ll be paired with a mentor according to your research interests and work on your proposal for six weeks on-site within the mentor’s installations. In doing so we hope professional practices and organisations might have a foundational role in the development of the student’s IRP.
Composed of a unique set of practices at the forefront of contemporary environmental design and thinking, our mentors aim to reflect the diversity of perspectives and possibilities within our programme.
Recent practice mentors include:
Critical & Historical Studies (CHS)
All studio-based MA students follow a weekly schedule of Critical & Historical Studies (CHS), a College-wide initiative that provides you with the intellectual framework to build a coherent relationship between theory and practice.
CHS delivers exciting, thought-provoking and inspiring lectures by experts within the programme and high-profile visiting lecturers. You’ll have the opportunity to explore the theoretical background and aspects of your chosen discipline through a tutored dissertation process, as well as receiving individual tutorial support from our team of expert tutors.
What you need to know before you apply
Candidates are selected entirely on merit and applications are welcomed from all over the world. The selection process will consider creativity, imagination and innovation as demonstrated in your portfolio, as well as your potential to benefit from the programme and to achieve high MA standards overall.
You’ll likely be students of architecture with a 3+2-year Bachelor and Master’s degree, or master-equivalent 5-year diploma preferably in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Landscape Urbanism, Urban Design or other related design discipline looking to acquire expertise in large scale, environmental and ecological design projects.
We’ll consider other backgrounds, such as fine arts, social sciences, geography, urban studies, planning or economics, if your prior work is of exceptional merit and you’re able to demonstrate their ability to work alongside and contribute to multidisciplinary teams. Evidence of your intellectual and professional curiosity and a readiness to engage in a rigorous and demanding period of study is essential.
What's needed from you
Your portfolio is a showcase of your work as an artist or designer and can be made up of images, videos or writing examples. Your portfolio helps us to better understand your application and allows you to show evidence of your ability and motivation to undertake a given programme.
Generally, we’re looking for you to demonstrate your:
- Creativity, imagination and innovation
- Ability to articulate the intentions of the work
- Intellectual engagement in areas relevant to the work
- Technical skills appropriate to the work
- Potential to benefit from the programme
Environmental Architecture is an interdisciplinary programme that aims at exploring the contribution of architecture towards addressing our current environmental and climate crises. We would like you to prioritise projects or other pieces of work that showcase:
- Ability and interest in addressing environmental and climate issues through design
- A range of technical design skills (these might take the form of drawing, model making, 3D models, film, photography, writing, painting, performance, exhibition design or others)
- A range of research methods (this could include academic papers, fieldwork, interviews, documentary practices, environmental analysis or other)
- Experience in group work and collaborative practices
- Experience of working with non-academic partners (if possible)
All submitted materials should state if they were done individually or in collaboration, and clearly explain the research methods and design processes that led to the final outcome.
If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need the equivalent of an IELTS Academic score of 6.5 with a 6.0 in the Test of Written English (TWE). Students achieving a grade of at least 6.0, with a grade of 5.5 in the Test of Written English, may be eligible to take the College’s English for Academic Purposes course to enable them to reach the required standard.
You are exempt from this requirement if you have received a 2.1 degree or above from a university in a majority English-speaking nation within the last two years.
If you need a Student Visa to study at the RCA, you will also need to meet the Home Office’s minimum requirements for entry clearance.
For this programme
Fees for new students
Fees for September 2021 entry on this programme are outlined below. From 2021 onward, EU students are classified as Overseas for tuition fee purposes.
Channel Islands and Isle of Man
Overseas and EU
New entrants to the College for MA, MRes, MPhil and PhD degrees will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit in order to secure their place. This will be offset against the tuition fees for the first year of study.
Overseas and EU
* Total cost is based on the assumption that the programme is completed in the timeframe stated in the programme details. Additional study time may incur additional charges.
Scholarships are awarded for a specific programme and entry point and cannot be deferred without consent from the academic Programme and scholarships panel.
There are many funding sources, with some students securing scholarships and others saving money from working. It is impossible to list all the potential funding sources; however, the following information could be useful.
Change your life and be here in 2021
The Royal College of Art welcomes applicants from all over the world.